Balsillie ups bid for Coyotes to $242.5M

Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has increased his bid for the Phoenix Coyotes from $212.5 million US to $242.5 million US, according to documents filed by Balsillie's lawyers in an Arizona bankruptcy court on Monday night.

Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has reached into his pocket for another $30 million US in his bid to buy the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes and relocate them in Hamilton.

Balsillie, the co-CEO of Research in Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, increased his bid for the NHL franchise to $242.5 million US, according to documents filed Monday night in Phoenix bankruptcy court.

Balsillie had been offering $212.5 million, with $104 million committed to Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 5.

But the bid was revised to address concerns raised last Wednesday in court by unsecured creditors.

Balsillie's adjusted bid earmarks $50 million to the city of Glendale, the Phoenix suburb where the Coyotes play, to release the team from a 30-year lease at Arena.

That amount reportedly could rise depending on the NHL's relocation fee, rumoured to be somewhere between $101 million and $195 million.

Balsillie's offer is contingent on the city accepting the offer by Sept. 30 and the Coyotes moving to Hamilton.

"We're not going to negotiate this in the media," said city spokeswoman Jennifer Liewer. "We're working through the process in bankruptcy court and trying to honour the wishes of the judge and go through the negotiations as the bankruptcy court dictates."

Court filings also confirm that, at the urging of Judge Redfield T. Baum, Balsillie has extended his deadline to finalize the sale from Sept. 14 to Sept. 21.

Baum is scheduled to oversee a court-supervised auction for the Coyotes on Thursday, but first must decide whether or not Balsillie is eligible to take part.

Mid-season move?

"Debtors' rejection of the Arena lease shall not be effective until the team moves to Hamilton. The payment to Glendale for its claims shall be deemed to include any and all rent, city taxes, fees and other charges of any nature for use of the arena assets." — statement from court document filed Monday suggesting Balsillie is prepared to let the Coyotes open the season in Phoenix and move to Hamilton later

The NHL is demanding Balsillie not be permitted to participate in the auction because the league's board of governors has rejected his ownership application.

The board voted 26-0, with abstentions from the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs, to reject Balsillie because it considered him an untrustworthy businessman.

Balsillie's bid is the most lucrative and contingent on moving the Coyotes to Hamilton, which PSE Sports & Entertainment LP — the company he formed to pursue the Coyotes — claimed in filings "is, irrefutably, the only chance to maximize the value of the debtors' assets and pay off all creditors."

The NHL has countered with a bid of $140 million and intends to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix for the time being.   

The league entered into the bidding about two weeks ago when Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls and White Sox, withdrew his $148-million bid, citing an inability to reach an agreement with the city of Glendale.

A third bid for $150 million was submitted by Ice Edge Holdings LLC, a group of Canadian and American businessmen committed to keeping the team in Phoenix — pending a lease agreement and on the proviso they play five games in Saskatoon.

The NHL has yet to vote on the suitability of Ice Edge Holdings as a potential owner.

The Coyotes open training camp on Saturday and play their first pre-season game on Sept. 15.